If you need another reason to clear your schedule for the day and pull all of the items out of the fridge, freezer, and pantry- your wallet might be the motivation you need.
With a disorganized pantry, you could find yourself with excess food that is being wasted. Wasted food, means wasted money, so stop throwing away food and money and take notes because we are going to get your pantry in tip-top shape.
We're going to cover some creative ways to reduce food waste and help trim your food budget this month.
The Basics of Grocery Shopping
Alright, we already know how to make a grocery budget and how to avoid impulse buys, but what we need to cover more in depth is the proper meal planning and avoiding food waste.
A disorganized pantry is costing you in space, time, and money. Getting a better understanding of how it's happening can help us to figure out a way to stop it from happening.
Many people aren't taught how to grocery shop correctly, so this is of course, completely normal and understandable. But, once you know how to do it right, it's life-changing.
What is Food Waste?
Food waste is literally just that. It's food that you may have purchased at one point in time or another (or it simply showed up) and was never used. Now it's older, rotted or expired and is food trash.
How to Avoid Food Waste
To avoid food waste you want to look at your weekly (or monthly) meal plans and make sure that you are doing them in an efficient manner.
There are two ways to meal plan, both the traditional method which is shopping at home before shopping in-store, and the reverse method which has ou in the store before coming home and making a list of meals.
By meal planning from home first, you are given a higher chance of an opportunity to use that can of cream corn you accidentally grabbed instead of the whole kernel that was next to it.
You're able to think about what you have, how you can best use it, and make meals using what would otherwise be considered food waste. By using it, you're not wasting food- which is good for you and your budget.
Tip for Reverse Meal Planners
Even if you aren't making a list of meals that you can make from home before shopping, you can still make a list of ingredients that you have at home so you can keep them in mind while looking for dinner inspiration!
Ways You're Creating Food Waste
Throwing away food leftovers
Something we all have at one point or another is leftovers. Leftovers are usually a hit or miss thing as some people have no trouble reheating and eating leftovers. Others may not be able to stomach the idea unless truly forced.
Thankfully there are many creative dinners to make using leftovers to repurpose them into something new and exciting.
With creative meal planning, you can make a single dish stretch into an entire week's worth of similar dishes that can help to reduce food waste in your house.
[Related] How to Reuse Leftover Food (100 ideas)
Not using food scraps
Believe it or not, there are a ton of great ways that you can use food scraps (think celery tops and carrot skins). Besides tossing them into a compost pile, you should make sure that you get your use out of them first.
Make your own broth or stock by placing your onion skins, celery and carrot scraps into a large crockpot with water and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Set it to low overnight and in the morning (after removing the chunks) you have a vegetable broth. Add chicken bones for chicken stock.
These scraps would have gone straight to the trash, but now they can help you trim your grocery budget while giving your family healthy stock for soups and other recipes. Bag it in 1 cup measurements and freeze flat. Now when a recipe calls for a can, use 1 bag- if the recipe asks for 1 carton- grab 2 bags.
Your freezer is full or hasn't been de-iced this year
If you have a deep freezer collecting ice, you should make sure to thaw it out and get the ice build up off to ensure that it continues to run properly and lasts longer.
This can be difficult if your freezer is full! So make some meal plans using the mystery meat in the freezer, assuming it isn't freezer burnt too badly. While eating freezer-burnt meat may not be harmful, it sure isn't tasty.
A Good Rule of Thumb
Use this time to do a pantry challenge and use up the food you have in the house to create space for the things you'll be stored temporarily.
Then after the holiday season has come to pass, if you're lucky, your freezers and fridge will be mostly bare. Finish up the remaining items and keep use New Years as an opportunity to defrost the freezer and clean out the fridge.
It can take as little as a few hours, and after that give it a few more to come back to a cold temp and refill with newly purchased food. After holiday meat sales are a great way to save money on meat!
Now repeat this every year and you'll have a nice system in place, a healthy lifespan on your freezer, less meat, and discarded food on your hands as well as a way to scrape together extra holiday money.
Clean and Organize the Pantry
Having a pantry full of food isn't a bad thing, there are so many people with no money for food and living with bare shelves, so you should be thankful to be so blessed. But if your food is hard to find, there's a good chance it will end up as food waste, which is more of a curse.
Try pulling everything out of the pantry, wiping down the shelves to remove crumbs, dust, and debris. Then Go through and look for anything open, spoiled, moldy, or stale. Toss those out but keep an open mind on expired foods or foods past their best buy date because they may actually still be good.
Now grab a paper and pen and write down all of the food inside of your pantry. Try to prioritize your food based on the FIFO system (first in-first out) and the expirations. You want to use foods before they spoil so you can be active against reducing food loss and waste.
After you know what you have you can plan to use it
You may not be a fan of creamed corn (is anybody?) But you paid for (or are the proud owner of a can) so now you should seek out ways to use it. Tossing it in with your cornbread or into a pot of chili could be a great way to use it before you lose it.
- Leftover flour tortillas can become Tortilla French Toast or Air Fryer Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips
- Packaged muffin mix can become Triple Berry Muffin Mix Cookies
- Ramen can be cooked up "fancy" in dishes like Sesame Garlic Ramen Noodles, Ramen with Egg and Cheese, or Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen.
- A plain boring beef roast can become a feast when served up as Poor Mans Prime Rib.
All it takes is a little creativity and planning, but once you have an idea of what you have and how to use it, you can make a meal plan that works at helping to remove this extra food from your home without wasting your money.
Food waste is wasted money, and the biggest contributor to food waste in your home is a disorganized pantry. So grab your paper, pens, and set aside a few hours every few months to get your pantry, fridge, and freezer cleaned and organized.